The Lucas Art Workshop was dedicated on Thursday, March 17 in a ceremony that honored the Lucas family and looked to the past, present, and future of the Art Department.
The dedication was held outside the new building. Attendees included Board of Trustees members, faculty, and art students. The Lucas Art Workshop is named after David and Linda Lucas, who donated money to build it.
President Derek Halvorson welcomed and introduced the speakers, including Alumna Bekah Meyer ’15, Professor of Art Jeff Morton, and Professor Ed Kellogg, who Halvorson said “was” the Art Department in the program’s early days. Halvorson also presented a gift to donor David Lucas, who gave a few remarks.
Kellogg spoke about the past of the Art Department and shared his memories of the early years. He said that years ago he became aware of the assumption that “art is first and foremost about the artist, which was at odds with Christian belief.” He was eager to come work at Covenant where “faith wasn’t just a theory, but more like a love affair.” Kellogg also said that he wishes the art students to “be reminded of their special calling to put Christ foremost in the world of Art.”
Meyer reflected on the present. She said that while she mourned the loss of the old Art Barn, she had realized that the Art Department was the body of artists and teachers themselves. Although they lacked a physical space, “we already were a place.” Meyer said that although “the Art Department’s geographic location has never been an attraction,” she hopes that “others will make their way down the hill with curiosity” to see what they are doing.
Morton reflected on the Art Department’s future. He quoted Steven Henry Madoff’s idea that “teaching art is teaching life” but said, “life can only be found in the life and work of Jesus Christ.” He said, “we need to listen to our art to nurture relationships with our brothers and sisters and our neighbors too. We can praise the Creator but we also lament brokenness too.” Morton said that the Art Department’s future is connected to their creative commitments, which are tied to the work of Jesus Christ.
Linda Lucas was unable to attend the ceremony, but David Lucas and two of their adult children were present. Halvorson presented David Lucas a plaque with a photograph of the Lucas Art Workshop and inscribed with the words “Lucas Art Workshop / Dedicated March 2016 / In honor of David and Linda Lucas for providing a place where artists may work, imagine, and share the beauty of God’s creation. / But now O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8”
A plaque in the Lucas Art Workshop is inscribed with the same words.
Halvorson said that two years ago when the Art Barn, which dated back to the 1920s, was declared structurally unsound, a replacement was not in the master plan. He said, “If not for the Lucas’s generosity, vision, response, and willingness to seize the opportunity, we would not have this building today.”
David Lucas said he thought the new building was a worthy successor to the Art Barn. He said that although he is not a visual artist, he is a creative person and appreciates what the Art Department does. He said, “We must be taught how to live productive lives and be trained in the art of living.”
The ceremony was closed with a prayer and singing of the college hymn, “All for Jesus.”
Morton said that the ceremony was “a wonderful collection of the people who have been involved with the Art Department. It was a blast, it was a party.”
Art major Jemima Barr said, “I thought it was really cool how God-centered the dedication was, with the hymns, prayers, and speeches about how the building was a gift from God and how we were going to use it for God’s glory.”
Morton said, “Mr. Lucas’s words just had a special effect on us. My painting class was out earlier that day and Mr. Lucas was hanging out with us and participating in the conversation. Afterwards I asked the students, ‘Do you know who that is?’ They said no, and I told them that he donated the money for the building. Some remembered that he spoke in chapel last year and they all expressed appreciation.”
The speakers remembered the old Art Barn fondly. Morton said that some windows from the Art Barn were incorporated into the new building, but other parts of the Art Barn were “quoted” as well. He said that they had hoped to reuse wood from the Art Barn, but the wood was not in good condition. Instead, they quoted it in the wood siding of new building, “especially in the color of the stain.” Morton also said that some of the tables and stools in the building are furniture that Ed Kellogg bought forty years ago and were used in the Art Barn.
Even with the reminders of the Art Barn, the Lucas Art Workshop is unique. Morton said that the building was build with a lot of input from students and faculty. They decided that they wanted to include “lots of light and connection to nature” which was expressed in the many large windows. The workshop has a gallery space, studio space, and office space, as well as another central space that Morton said is “not exactly a functional space but an “other” space that allows you to wander the building.”